Stephen Baxter has called on goalkeeper Harry Doherty to show he is capable of becoming Crusaders number one after the young keeper kept a clean sheet against Newry City on Friday night.
The summer signing from Carrick Rangers was one of six changes made by Baxter for the match, and after a couple of nervy moments early on in slippery conditions, Doherty looked composed as he started in place of Sean O’Neill between the sticks in the win.
A poor first half from the Crues saw Newry on top, but their lack of goals this season came back to haunt them as Rory Patterson put the Shore Road men in front three minutes after the break from the penalty spot after he had been brought down by Paddy Mooney.
Paul Heatley then helped himself to a late double to secure Crusaders’ first win following successive league defeats.
“The first 15 or 20 minutes, you thought it was a pack of strangers playing out there and sometimes I think that can be down to a lack of confidence,” admitted Baxter.
“We lost 3-0 last week and 1-0 the week before and sometimes you get a lack of confidence from that. I said to them at half-time, get on the ball and everybody start passing the ball the way you do in training and take the chances. I thought we did that really well.
“Jordan Forsythe was magnificent and Michael Carvill was Man of the Match by some distance. Those lads were getting on the ball and they were finding the passes into the front men who had that bit of quality. It just takes us to jump on the bicycle again if you like,” said the manager who was pleased with Doherty’s display.
“He had two balls whipped in at him in the second half and he punched one clear and tipped one round the post with two good saves. You expect that from your keepers and it’s an important thing to do.
“Sean O’Neill has been a legend of our football club over the last number of years and he’s conceded a lot of goals over recent days. It’s time for Harry to step up and show us what he’s all about,” Baxter added.
City boss Darren Mullen is well aware of what the problems are this season.
“It’s extremely frustrating because of how well we did in the first half, but ultimately it means nothing. We’ll take positives out of it. We’ve played well against the league champions and the league leaders in the last two weeks, but we’ve nothing to show for it. We’re just falling that wee bit short and we need someone to put the ball in the back of the net. That’s easier said than done at this level,” he said.